Heartbreaking, yet not surprising

This is a disturbing story from the LA Times. I think it also shows that we can not be too careful when considering the legality of children "available" for adoption.

How many more stories like this one are going to come to light? I think what is most interesting is that so many advocates of adoptions from China have believed that the adoption system there was clean and straightforward. It's just all abandoned daughters, after all, right? Unlike the widespread and widely known trafficking of children from other countries, there has been a sense of "not us" about China. Unfortunately, now we know otherwise.

A mother-and-son business in China

Duan Yuelin and Chen Zhijin, his mother, who get children from the
rural poor and adopt them out to foreigners, talk about their business
in their home in Changning, China. Chen says the children are better
off with their new parents. (Barbara Demick / Los Angeles Times / January 15, 2010)

What merchandise was he selling? Babies. And the customers were
government-run orphanages that paid up to $600 each for newborn girls
for adoption in the United States and other Western countries.

"They couldn't get enough babies. The demand kept going up and up, and
so did the prices," recalled Duan, who was released from prison last
month after serving about four years of a six-year sentence for child

From 2001 to '05, the ring sold 85 baby girls to six orphanages in Hunan.

His story, which is backed up by hundreds of pages of documents
gathered in his 2006 court case, shed light on the secretive process
that has seen tens of thousands of unwanted girls born to dirt-poor
parents in the Chinese countryside growing up in the United States with
names like Kelly and Emily.

"Definitely, all the orphanages gave money for babies," said the 38-year-old Duan, a loquacious man with a boxy haircut.

At first, Duan said, his family members assumed that they weren't
breaking the law because the babies were going to government-run
orphanages. It had been an accepted practice among peasant families to
sell unwanted children to other families.

To read the story, click here.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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